In a nutshell

Three local, two national and one international stories in a nutshell

North Dakota native Josh Duhamel proposes to Fargo’s pageant winner and model Audra Mari

On Jan. 8, Actor Josh Duhamel posted to instagram announcing his new engagement to Audra Mari of Fargo, according to Inforum.

The photo showed the newly engaged couple standing on Miami Beach with Duhamel holding a weathered piece of paper that says: Audra Diane Mari, will you marry me?

After reading the message in the bottle, Mari said yes.

Mari graduated from Fargo Davies High School and pursued a modeling career in Los Angeles for several years and attended North Dakota State University online as of July 2021.

In 2014 she finished first runner-up at the Miss USA pageant and won the 2016 Miss World America contest.

Duhamel grew up in Minot, N.D. and graduated from Minot State University. He later went on to win the title of Male Model of the Year and continued with a career in acting.

The two met through a mutual friend in Los Angeles.

Mask mandate proposal is rejected by Fargo City Commission

On Monday, Jan. 10, City Commissioner John Strand’s proposal to reinstate a mask mandate for city employees and public buildings was rejected by a 4-1 vote, according to Inforum.

As omicron cases appear to be popping up across the state and city, Strand figured a mask mandate could help.

Public Health Director Desi Fleming doubted the mandate would have much effect if it wasn’t an “all-in” effort for the city of Fargo to mask up. Instead, she encouraged people to get vaccinated and/or schedule their booster.

There are about 1,100 confirmed cases in Cass County, with a majority of them most likely being the omicron variant Fleming reported.

Statewide, there are 122 hospitalizations. Fleming stated that people with vaccinations, especially booster shots, can be almost 90% sure of staying out of the hospitals.

She also stated that the omicron variant is expected to peak in late January, according to Inforum.

Woman pleads guilty to spray-painting Jesus statue, disrupting ex’s funeral and terrorizing couple

After four cases, Rebecca Whitten, 29, will be under supervised probation until 2024 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of terrorizing as of Jan. 3, according to the Forum.

On July 13, Whitten mistakenly visited the wrong address of a friend who was killed. The family that lived in the apartment asked Whitten to leave, according to a criminal complaint, after she had threatened to “sodomize” the family’s dog and burn the house down.

She also pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in September after disrupting her ex-boyfriend’s burial May 1 at Riverside Cemetery in South Fargo, according to court documents. Whitten drove over gravesites and attempted to “run people over.”

Video showed a woman, supposedly Whitten, in a black hooded sweater walking up to a statue of Jesus in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral at 604 Broadway N., then running away, according to Inforum.

Whitten pleaded guilty to a list of charges that involved an incident that happened July 1. A bouncer at Fort Noks Bar of Gold said a woman tried to break into the business and said she was “going to murder staff,” according to Inforum and court documents.

Man with terminal heart disease gets a transplant of a genetically modified pig heart

57-year-old David Bennet of Maryland was diagnosed with a terminal heart disease and received a genetically modified pig heart in a first-of-its-kind transplant surgery, University of Maryland Medicine said in a news release Monday, according to CNN.

“It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” Bennett said before the surgery, according to the release.

The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the surgery on Dec. 3. Art Caplan, a professor of bioethics at New York University, said the United States has a “terrible” shortage of organs for transplants and believes engineering animal parts is a solution

Caplan said it is too early to call the heart transplant a success, according to CNN. That label will come if Bennett has a good quality of life for months, he said. But it’s still possible that he could die.

U.S. sets new record for COVID hospitalizations amid rising omicron cases

On Monday, there were 132,646 people hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in January last year, according to Reuters.

Although the omicron variant is potentially less severe, health officials warned that the number of infections caused by the new variant is a major concern for hospital systems, some that are also experiencing staff shortages.

According to a Reuters tally, the U.S, has averaged over a half a million cases for the last six consecutive days.

Seven states have avoided setting new record COVID-19 cases in 2022: Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and Wyoming — all rural states.

On the other end, Washington, D.C., is leading the country in new infections in the past week based on population with an infection rate of 1,700 infections per day.

Pope warns against attempts to cancel culture

On Monday, Pope Francis spoke of the crisis of trust in multilateral diplomacy, which he said led to “agendas increasingly dictated by a mindset that rejects the natural foundations of humanity and the cultural roots that constitute the identity of many peoples,” according to Reuters.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin expressed concern over a draft European Union communications manual that suggested not using the term Christmas. The Vatican saw this as an attempt to cancel Europe’s Christian roots and was later withdrawn for revision.

Francis warned of a “form of ideological colonization, one that leaves no room for freedom of expression and is now the form of the ‘cancel culture’ invading many circles and public institutions.”

Adding that a kind of “one-track thinking” is taking shape, one constrained to deny history or, worse yet, to rewrite it in terms of present-day categories, Francis said, according to Reuters.

The pope did not mention any specific cancel culture examples, but he said “any historical situation must be interpreted in the context of its times and not by today’s standards.”

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